24 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 | BETHESDAMAGAZINE.COM
Editor & Publisher
THE PROCESS OF PUBLISHING the Best of Bethesda
issue takes a lot of time and work on the part of many of my
colleagues. (I, candidly, get to do the easy parts: I help come
up with the categories and I notify the winners.)
For the Readers’ Picks, our marketing manager, Amélie
Ward, and web producer, Elly Stau;er, create the survey on
BethesdaMagazine.com, and then Amélie promotes it in
print, online and via social media. ;is year, nearly 13,000
When the voting is over, the hard work begins. First,
our finance manager, Jill Trone, and our vice president of
publishing, my wife, Susan Hull, start scrubbing the data.
;ey are looking for voters who don’t follow the survey
rules or who flat-out cheat. (Yes, there are some of the
latter.) Each year, there are a fair number of made-up names
and instances of people who don’t live at the address they
provide. ;is year, 49 voters who picked the same person in
one category all listed the same single-family home as their
address. We used Google Street View to see if it was a really
big house. It wasn’t, and we disqualified those voters. ;is
year, as in previous years, we ended up not counting about 25
percent of the Readers’ Picks votes.
Once the list of voters is finalized, Susan and Jill start
the process of “normalizing” the votes, which means they
make sure that the spelling is consistent for each person or
business that receives a Best of Bethesda vote. For example,
Hans Wydler, who was voted Best Real Estate Agent this year,
received votes as “H. Wydler,” “Hans Wilder” and “Hands
Wydler.” All of those entries had to be changed to “Hans
Wydler.” Take 13,000 voters and 100-plus categories and you
get the scope of the undertaking.
For the Editors’ Picks, I work with our editorial team to
come up with the categories and to choose the winners. We
have spirited debates about both.
Finally, our editors check the names of the winners and
edit the write-ups on the Editors’ Picks, and designers Sylvia
Gashi-Silver and Jenny Fischer assign the photos and create
;ere’s a collective sigh of relief when the Best of Bethesda
issue is finally sent to the printer in mid-December.
OUR PATH TO THE interview in this issue with New York
Times Washington Bureau Chief Elisabeth Bumiller started
with a recycling bin.
Last summer, Susan and I were watching ;e Fourth
Estate, Showtime’s riveting documentary about the Times
in the first year of the Trump administration. In a scene of
Bumiller at home, I noticed that the recycling bin she was
moving bore the Montgomery County symbol. A quick
online search revealed that she lived in Bethesda. As soon as
I saw that bin, I wanted us to interview her.
;e Bethesda area is home to many well-known
journalists, such as MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, CNN’s
Wolf Blitzer and ;e Washington Post’s Dan Balz, Ruth
Marcus and Karen Tumulty. But there are few who are more
influential than Bumiller.
As the Washington bureau chief, Bumiller directs
most of the paper’s coverage of President Trump and his
administration. And the Times’ reporting has been aggressive
and consequential, earning widespread praise and the
Our interview was conducted by Steve Roberts, who spent
nearly 15 years working in the Times’ D.C. bureau (although
he didn’t overlap with Bumiller) and writes the “Hometown”
column in Bethesda Magazine. Roberts told me that
Bumiller is the right person for the job because of the “vast
experience” she had as a reporter, including stints covering
Mayor Rudy Giuliani in New York and then covering the
White House. “She understands what her reporters are going
through every day, she can identify with their stresses and
problems because she’s lived them herself,” Roberts says.
He also says Bumiller has struck the “right balance” in
the Times’ coverage of the president. “She’s determined to
make the bureau a place that holds him accountable for his
statements and policies, but she rejects the idea that the media
is ‘fighting back’ against the White House,” Roberts says.
Our interview with Bumiller begins on page 184.
to our readers
THE MAKING OF THE ‘BEST OF’